So, look anywhere on the web for Crossfit and undoubtedly you have seen this picture:
Looks pretty gnarly, right?
This guy (or girl) is obviously serious about fitness. So serious that they’ll destroy their body in the process. Brilliant.
So, many experts will tell you that if you work in gymnastics, barbells or kettlebells long enough, you will develop and you will tear callouses. Well, we use all three.
This is mostly true. You will must develop callouses. But you don’t have to tear them. You can leave them be. Sure, accidents will happen here and there, but for the most part, there’s no reason to repeatedly take your hands off.
I think the best way to think of this is as ‘callous management’. As long as you actively manage your callouses you should be able to stay ahead of the tearing. Here’s what you do:
After a particularly rough (but non-tearing) workout, you’ll likely want to treat your hands. Once or twice a week you will want to treat your hands.
First, moisturize your hands. I don’t mean lotion, I mean submerge them underwater (warm) until they wrinkle up like a raisin (~10-15 minutes). This is best done in a bath, as it will not happen in a shower nor is it much fun to sit there with your hands in a sink for 20 minutes. I guarantee this is when little Suzie will start beating little Johnny or the new puppie will pee on the kitchen floor while you watch, helpless.
Once you’ve soaked your hands, you will notice that the calloused areas (hard, karotinized and dead skin) will begin to turn white. This white area is superficial calloused skin that will readily RUB off. Just file it down a little with a pumice stone or other fine to medium grain sanding type material. Try to make them even, flat and smooth.
Once this is done, dry the hands somewhat, and apply the creamiest, oiliest, greasiest funk moisturizer to your hands.
Alternatively, you can also ‘condition’ your hands, or thicken them somewhat by choosing regular small applications of ‘Corn Husker’s Lotion‘ instead. It’s an oil free moisturizer popular with those that work with their hands. It will keep your skin from drying while actually making it feel somewhat tacky. If you apply this within a few hours preworkout this will exacerbate any callous problems and will likely lead to a tear. CHL is a POST workout conditioning tool!
Combine regular maintenance with intelligent program design (gradually introduce more volume with callous intensive movements like the kipping pull up or the KB snatch) and a conservative approach to your workouts, and you should be fine. Remember, this is training, it’s supposed to make you better, not worse. Tearing a callous often means a week off, when you didn’t plan it. Not cool. Not productive over the long term!
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